Monday, April 26, 2010

Five Things I Learned In 4 Years Of Beauty Blogging


Today is the fourth anniversary of The Non-Blonde. I started the blog because I had something to say, and 1465 posts later, I still do. The thing I didn't expect back in April 2006 was how many people would be interested in reading my opinions enough to follow the blog regularly. Had anyone told me back then that every day several thousands would visit The Non Blonde directly and thousands more are going to subscribe to my feed and read it through email, I would have said it was as likely as me wearing green nail polish, straightening my hair, testing eyebrow pencils on my husband, discovering that I smell exactly like a tall guy who lives in Los Angeles or attending press events all over Manhattan...

This blog has taken me places, opened a new world for me and introduced me to some of the most special and wonderful people I have ever met. This is the best part of writing The Non-Blonde. My readers are funny, smart and are very knowledgeable about beauty, fashion and perfume and I've learned a lot from many of you.

I also learned a lesson or two about the (beauty) blogging process, which is what this list is all about:

1. It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to.
The best posts are ones that fully reflect my experience, including my emotions. That's exactly what separates a real blog from sites that spout press releases and regurgitate material.  I have preferences and opinions, likes and dislikes, and this is where I express them. Which leads us to:

2. You can't be everything to everyone.
Really, you just can't. I write about stuff I find interesting, great, horrible, annoying, sublime...
But I can't cover every brand, style and price point. And I can't (and won't) fake it. Some people would stumble across this blog and dislike, disagree or think that I have the worst taste ever. Others get exactly what I'm saying and share my style and ideas, but even they might occasionally like an aquatic melon perfume. That's life.

3. Inspiration comes in many shapes and forms. Sometimes I start with the product, other times it's a place, a song or a photo that grab me and lead to a different post than what I intended to write . Blogging isn't a scientific process and I can't force it, even when there's a list longer than my arm of products, samples and perfumes to test and review.

4. Trust your gut.
If something doesn't feel right, it most likely isn't. I'm talking about offers, emails, opportunities but also people. After you've been blogging for a while, you get a feel for the industry and those who cover it. It's OK to take a step back, define boundaries and say "No, thank you". That's how I maintain integrity- the blog's and mine.

5. It's easy to feel jaded about the beauty and fragrance industry. Unless you look closely, all you see are the huge companies that buy the full page ads in magazines, maintain an incestuous relationship with the media and seem to have a cynical view regarding bloggers as well as their own consumers. But they are not the only ones making perfume or lipstick. While not all "niche" companies were created equal, there are enough interesting brands that are driven by passion for beauty and quality. Those are the ones that offer real luxury and are worth exploring.


I want to thank each and every one of you for the readership, support and friendship. You're the reason I'm happy to put the weirdest stuff on my face, test every perfume that crosses my path and stay up late to write all about it. Welcome to my fifth year.

Photo by Chris Gin, 2009

39 comments:

  1. Many happy returns. I enjoy your blog very much, and you are definitely a blogging inspiration of mine.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love your blog, and your cat is fab! Keep up the fab work!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Gaia,

    Congratulations! Yours is one of the best blogs I've ever read (it was one of the first beauty blogs I followed), and I enjoy it each and every day. Your writing and choice of illustrations are brilliant. No wonder you have such a loyal and large audience!

    Most of us want to see opinions, not press releases, so you're spot-on with your emphasis. And those darling helpers you have must make the long hours worth it.

    I could write on and on, but I just want you to know - before I head off to get ready for work - that I love you and your blog.

    Happy Anniversary, gal! May the next four years be even more rewarding!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Happy 5th Anniversary! I look forward to your blog every day. I laugh with you, cry with you (over some thimgs) and learn alot includin that life is too short not to have great beauty products and perfumes that give you leasure and life is too short not to have cats by your side and in your bed!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Day after ady after finding Non-Blonde by mistake I have enjoyed reading it every day.
    Congratulations...........it takes my breath away at times
    xxxxxxxxxx

    ReplyDelete
  6. Happy 4th anniversary! I read your blog everyday even if I don't comment. I enjoy your blog very much, and I'm looking forward to your 5th year.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for a great blog, Gaia! I like that you don't try to catch everything that comes out. Your posts have much more depth and meaning than the press release types of posts and are the perfect length. You don't write just to read yourself think or milk a thought to exhaustion.

    Here's to many more!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Happy anniversary! Keep up the great work.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I ADORE your blog and am so thankful for your reviews! You are one of my Standards as far as beauty blogs. Keep up the excellent work and HAPPY BLOGBIRTHDAY!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Happy Anniversary, Gaia!!

    Calypso

    ReplyDelete
  11. Congratulations, Gaia! It's a great blog, fun and useful.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Happy Blogiversary! I have just discovered your blog and I love it! As a new blogger, it is very inspirational to me. Enjoying your tweets too! Oh and thank you for this great post!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Happy anniversary! I don't comment that often, but I am a subscriber and appreciate your blog and your truthful opinions very much!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Congratulations! I stumbled upon your wonderful blog about 6 months ago and since then I haven't stopped being impressed. I love that you maintain a clean and classy layout with out all that extra junk! You have fabulous taste and well written reviews! Keep it up and thank you

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for your smart, stylish viewpoint and your excellent writing! Wishing you many more years of happy blogging...

    ReplyDelete
  16. congratulations on four years! May there be many, many more!

    Love,
    Your scent twin

    ReplyDelete
  17. Happy Anniversary! and congratulations on creating and sustaining such a wonderful and interesting blog!

    xoA

    ReplyDelete
  18. Many wonderful returns, Gaia!
    I'm one of the 2000 readers who enjoy reading your posts on a near daily basis.
    Thanks to your wonderful writings, I have been encouraged to open my horizon and try things that are far out of my comfort zone.
    You even got me to visit the cosmetics dept at Bergdorfs for the first time in over a decade with future visits anticipated!
    Thank you for sharing and for your uncompromising standards. It's been so much fun!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Congratulations, Gaia! The integrity of your blog is legend and you're one classy lady. Here's to another great year on your delightful, opinionated, and informative blog. You rock!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Congrats Gaia! I love your frank and honest style. Keeps me coming back everyday to see what you're up to :-)

    ~Trish

    ReplyDelete
  21. Happy anniversary! I think those are wonderful lessons to pass on to fellow bloggers, especially those starting out.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Yes, congratulations! I read you every day because I can trust your integrity -- not always the case with beauty blogs, or any blogs. Many happy returns and here's to four more.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Happy anniversary and many, many happy returns! I do love your blog I discovered a few months ago, I enjoy readind your eclectic reviews (love your style!)and looking at the gorgeous photos you select brilliantly! I am looking forward to enjoying it more this 5th year (caresses to you lovely cats!) A BIG THANK YOU!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I stumbled upon your blog about half a year ago and found it absolutely addictive. It's very rare to find someone with strong opinions - and, what's even more important, someone who isn't afraid to voice them (or, in your case, post them:)). I must admit I often disagree with you, but that's fine by me - we all think and feel differently, and that means we're alive. But I do share your taste in perfume. And I love cats.:)

    So - Happy Anniversary! Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Happy Anniversary to The Non-Blonde!
    May you continue onward and upward dear Gaia.

    ReplyDelete
  26. A very happy anniversary! I'm a regular reader, and not usually a commenter, but thought it was the perfect occasion to say how very much I enjoy your writing. Thanks for all that you do.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I can't even begin to tell you how happy all the comments above have made me. Warm fuzzies is an understatement- I'm about to have a Sally Field moment here and fully embarrass myself.

    Thank you, everyone. I'm touched and humbled by everything you've said. I wish we could have a big party somewhere fun and hang out together.

    Lots of love from me and the kitties,

    Gaia

    ReplyDelete
  28. Looking forward to the new year #5 Keep up the good work! You are appreciated!! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Happy Anniversary! I love reading your blog and enjoy your comments, your wonderful vintage photos and your furry little helpers! Here's to a great year ahead.

    ReplyDelete
  30. congrats!! i've been reading since... 2007, i think? yours is one of the few beauty blogs i follow anymore. it's introduced me to so many new things, and i'm still working my way through my box of perfume samples :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. Wow, has it been that long?! I wish you many more years of provocative posting! Don't change a thing, your blog is one of the bright spots!

    Love,

    Flora/Donna, your OTHER "Scent twin!"

    ReplyDelete
  32. What a wonderful post! I adore your blog and while I don't always get the time to comment I read often and value your thoughts. You have a beautiful writing style and I hope this blog continues to provide inspiration and intelligence beyond the fluff that clouds the industry.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Gaia -
    Congratulations on The Non Blonde's anniversary!
    And I'm so very glad you still got things to say :-)
    Wishing you many more years to come of fun beauty & perfume blogging with integrity and passion!
    xoAyala

    ReplyDelete
  34. Congratulations! Four years is amazing and you have a fabulous blog!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Coming in late, but this was the perfect occasion to delurk.

    I've been following this blog for a long time, and loved it all - the variety, the vintage perfumes reviews, the obvious integrity, AND the gorgeous feline models.
    In a nutshell? Fantastic.

    Congratulations for the blogiversary, and here's to many more!

    ReplyDelete
  36. You're one of the venues I most enjoy, you know it, and I thank you for your continuing personal opinions and non-affiliated thoughts which are so rare in this game ;-)
    Happy 5th!!

    ReplyDelete

I love comments and appreciate the time you take to connect with me, but please do not insert links to your blog or store. Those will be deleted. The comment feature is not intended to provide an advertising venue for your blog or your commercial site.

Like